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04 Editor's Note 06 Chrissie Chinebuah 08 Marion Henson 10 Devin Canary 13 Meghan Trask Smith 16 Ida Thomasdotter 20 Jasmine Ledesma


3 22 Aurore Sibley 24 Lori Noto 26 Alicia Drier 29 Sarah Sturino 31 Brittany Brasher 34 Nikki Tajiri 38 Jess Hess 44 Meet the Authors


Dear readers,

Healing has always been an important subject to me and one of those words that is forever unraveling meaning. As a trauma survivor, I fought for healing from a young age, seeking refuge in language as a way to say the unsayable. I truly believe words, art, and embodying our stories can help us heal what's within us. For our 4th poetry ebook on Still Healing–you will hear from roaring women sharing their unique stories and experiences of healing. My hope, as always, is that when you read these stories you feel a little less alone in your own healing process. . Are you passionate about the work FWWR is doing? Please consider supporting through our Patreon–your contribution helps us continue with this amazing work. Thank you for writing, reading, and roaring with us,

Xo, Megan Febuary Editor-in-Chief


Medusa In African Print Written by: Chrissie Chinebuah

These braids, The ones holding my hair in a rope-bound ransom, Snake around my flesh and bones, And gift me feelings of Xenophobia, fear of other Or rather what I feel undeserving of Embrace. I have combed its limbs In the art of contortionists, Until it no longer speaks My mother tongue, Until this hair no longer feels like my own, And a new life slithers from its veinsVenom, to my fingertips that once bathed it. So I feed it shea butter to appease its stance And ensure it attracts interest from far and wide, Spectators for the grandeur Or the special attraction defining who I am, Only for it to freeze viewers into a stony acceptance. My songs of praises In the sunshine, when it is on heat and primal, And sulking in the cold, when it is dull and lifeless Cause this hair to shed its character, As if it has a mind of its own And hisses with disapproval Of my unpredictable forecast. This hair, this mystical creature Rivals its inanimate peers, Yet perpetually misunderstood: I still feel it wrap around intrigued irises, In an effort to juice the curiosity Emancipated through queries and questions From disapproving lips.

OCT 2019


Re lections In The Mirror Written by: Marion Henson

You are visible because I see you You do not need to go incognito Take off the mask This space is safe Free from the world's grenades No trolls allowed here You're allowed to feel the sun’s embrace To dance free Fling your arms wide To ugly cry To laugh out loud You’re home In your healing space Still healing and I accept you as you are

OCT 2019


The Myth of the Sel less Mother Written by: Devin Canary

in our culture mothers hunger for nothing as long as their children's bellies are full mothers are happy to wear the same tattered dress every day so their kids can have nice clothing mothers never feel sadness in a sea of smiling children there's just one problem these job descriptions were not written by actual mothers actual mothers  are humans, not martyrs having offspring does not automatically turn a woman into a saint or a selfless, sexless, slave whose soul source of fulfillment is appeasing her tiny overlords the need for self care and a sense of purpose does not end the day motherhood begins so when young women become mothers and they still want to wear pretty dresses or take hot baths or write poetry or read books or have a career or make art or just-for the love of god-take a shit in peace

OCT 2019


The Myth of the Sel less Mother

they feel like failures like something is fundamentally wrong with them no matter how many smiling selfies they post on facebook declaring their lives complete  they find themselves full of shame buckling under the weight of so many unrealistic expectations hyperventilating over mountains of dirty laundry hiding in a locked bathroom sobbing breaking down at the doctor's office begging for something to take the edge off mothers mothers held on pedestals so high it's impossible to survive the inevitable fall

OCT 2019


Tamponade, Post Mortem Written by: Meghan Trask Smith

I. There are small bleeds beneath the skin, and then there are hematomas, collected clots that gather with surprising speed. Mine is the size of a lemon found among trunks twisted in a yellow maze of fragrant skins. It is hidden in the folds of the flesh between my legs, a secret. My anatomy has gone beneath the bleed, intricacy engorged in shapeless purple of injured vulva, blood sack. The body is amazing. Burst a vessel, and the skin will only stretch so far before it tamponades its own bleed. Cut that skin open, and the boundaries disappear. The first time I put in a tampon I used a small silver mirror to navigate the folded opening, watched my flesh swallow the applicator, heart bucking against the strange push of the plastic plunger, nothing left but a brave string. I marveled at my capacity to hold it in.

OCT 2019

Tamponade, Post Mortem


II. New Englanders bruise tremendously in winter. Ice is the cause of slips and falls and ice is the cure for the bruise. Cold pack and minimal pressure three times a day. People always code in the Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot, outside Hematology/Oncology at Lowell General Hospital.  Those on blood thinners are the worst, gushing out onto the asphalt, a clear trail from fall to stretcher. Coffee is brewed in the hospital café, but it's hard to find on the floor plan so no one ever codes there. Subdural, epidural, perichondral, subungual, a map of the body in bleeds and, then, mine: vulvar. I have to dig  my top teeth in to my bottom lip  to even say its name, explain  the sad slip of the surgeon’s scalpel. My blackening skin attempts to wrap  it all up and turn itself inside out,  the direction my blood has always run at the turn of each cycle, joining the end back to the beginning. Now, I don’t recognize myself from the waist down. I cannot even face it if I wanted to. I am armed with a silver hand mirror. I take a deep breath to bite back the tears.  I struggle to make a boundary of myself, to keep holding  everything in.

OCT 2019


Whatever Fine Means Written by: Ida Thomasdotter

1. Whatever ’fine’ means Little girl made of galaxies with titanium for bones She has rocket fuel rushing through her veins She is strong, she is strong-willed, she is galaxies titanium her own rocket fuel Her dad says, you were always fine on your own Her mum says, you didn’t really need anyone you were fine I am

I had whole worlds inside of me could keep myself entertained with stories like little movie reels in my head for hours So much to say, do So much me to be contained in a body so frustratingly small My friend says, I just knew not to hug you Something about you I could just tell You don’t like to be touched

OCT 2019


Whatever Fine Means

I am strong alone fine Head complaining, creaking, cracking around thoughts questions thunder and lightening pain leaving me alone in dark quiet rooms except dark quiet rooms don’t stay quiet for me I am wheeled into a tunnel; They want to take a picture of the pain in my head and tell me afterwards everything is fine I am burning up from the inside but it’s happening so slowly no-one notices and I actually believe them when they tell me you are fine I’m always cold so cold I can’t feel my hands and feet also my skin crawls and chest pinches I am strong alone burning fine

Sitting next to my brother on the sofa in my grandmother’s house four years old squirming fussing shuffling further a little further along, a little closer My brother says, do you have to crowd me, you have the whole sofa to sit on

OCT 2019

Whatever Fine Means


My mother says, aww someone wants a huuuug My brother says, oh you want a huuuug and with lightening-speed grabs and squeezes me so tight I can barely breathe My mother and brother laugh as I squirm fuss shuffle My cheeks burn, stomach drops, chest clenches and I’ll never be able to breathe again, I think, I shove and shove, forever and ever, at least I think so, maybe it’s just a handful of seconds, then finally my brother lets go and I shuffle shuffle further further away, all the way into the corner of the sofa, and I don’t try to be close to anyone again for almost thirty years I am strong alone burning cold lonelylonelylonely fine

I am fine even if I’ve had to cut myself to pieces to fit into my skin and when I ask you for a hug a very young and anxious little girl’s voice seeps out of my mouth I am all the things everyone has ever told me I am and so much more and sometimes less I am everything and nothing you would expect me to be I am what I would expect everyone to expect me to be I am none of these things but almost everything else and everything in-between I am everything everyone thinks of me when they think it I am every little thing I think I am expect fine

OCT 2019


Open Letter to Steve Harvey From the Women's Unit Written by: Jasmine Ledesma

We’re always watching you. Miss a dose but never an episode. We love our man. I’ve calmed down enough to hear the jokes. Steve, I thought I was a president. A fluorescent goddess in aisle ten. Turns out, it was just me on the security footage. Now I’m here in this hallway with nothing but sedation at fifteen minute intervals. Steve, will you come visit me? We can talk about being famous. I’ll show you what it’s like. Sometimes, I am the wind whispering through the hole inside me. Sometimes, I want America to blow me a kiss. Steve, do you understand?

OCT 2019

P 22

Someone Asked Me Why I Wore Black Written by: Aurore Sibley

To be brief, I’ll give you ten reasons, 1.The first kiss. It was “only a kiss,” he pushed me against a wall while his friend laughed, and I did not want to kiss – anyone –again - for a long time 2. For when he locked me in a room and said he would not hurt me if I complied 3. and 4. For the boyfriends that took their liberties without consent 5. For the doctor who assaulted me in his office - I bled for two weeks 6. Because I was made to hug most of my assailants after their assault 7. Because I Never - Reported - Any of them - because my shame was too great to fathom speaking it 8. Because blood does not show up on black 9. Nor other bodily fluids, not so much 10. Because black is the color of mourning

OCT 2019


Dressing for Work in a Toothpaste Stained Mirror Written by: Lori Noto

Today, I dressed you in cotton, softer than the wool sweater I wore until the seven-year winter in me ended. You look good, though I am not sure yet if the cotton suits you. I’ve become too used to accessorizing you with other things, like the aroma of a sick, pungent perfume or a finger gun jammed into the holster of your throat. Forgive me. Loving what no else seemed to makes this all too hard. I only dance as well as those who taught me how to move, but I am trying. Watch as I raise our arms and spin.

OCT 2019


P 26

Written by. Alicia Drier

To this day, my grandmother refuses To wear the color of egg-yolks Because of one harshly slanted comment From a popular classmate On the playground Maybe this is why My mother never dressed me In the color Or wore it herself Throughout her life But today I am Breaking the family rule With a tunic all soft and tart and inviting In a shade of gentle mustard And I am reminded With this one choice That it’s never too late To set aside a harsh word To brace against The bitter winds of winter To stand up and welcome the dawn And any change it brings

OCT 2019

P 27

Cold Water Written by. Alicia Drier

As I stand in the neon glow Of a 3am refrigerator doorway I am caught between Two pieces of my whole self The one warm, upstairs in bed Next to you -holding onto the wisps of a dream The other chilled and half naked, Spider-thin fracture lines In my bathroom-mirror reflection I reach for cold water on the top shelf Weigh it in my hands Like the self-loathing I press Against my skin every morning The first sip is vein-deep crisp And suddenly I am too aware Of the slap of my own bare feet against the kitchen floor Of the backyard wind chime that never quite sleeps Of the repeated imprint of "goodbye" along the rounded tip of my tongue Like cold water, it hits me The promise that you and I Together are something worth setting in place I know that now As I close this fridge door And return to the prayer of your arms

OCT 2019

P 29

Healing Written by: Sarah Sturino

one day she woke up the brick wall that had been building on her chest had tumbled down the hands pressing against her throat had released the fog in her mind had subsided slowly a smile crept across her lips as she reached for her crown once again

OCT 2019

p 31

Learning Self Love

OCT 2019

Written by: Brittany Brasher

I am falling in love with the skin I am in Mesmerized by the way my thighs meet Dazed as the sun kisses my skin Creating this timeless glow Understanding the shape of my hips Speak volumes As I walk with pride Loudly proclaiming over the insecurity of my Midsection I am the shit! Real talk Self love never had a section in the books I buried myself in Hiding from reality in the pages of someone else’s experience Making my brain the centerpiece of my existence Being noticed for my beauty Being talked out of spaces “You should be a model” became the biggest insult anyone could say aloud As i was dismissed from being educated Thrown into the wasteland of beautiful faces that I would never measure up to To consider your beauty in a world that bashes it is a revolutionary act Well I did always want to be a rebel In search, i’m finding There is no petition to sign validating beauty in blackness There is no protest to attend uplifting cellulite on skin There is no group that meets to plan an attack on dispelling black woman’s masculinity I can only be one of two black women in America An empowered make bashing afro-centric educator Or A spectator to my identity, baptized in the river of Eurocentric beliefs and beauty standards dying to my true self every day But what about the grey area? The parts that people don’t speak about? The womanhood that personifies love That’s my womanhood That’s my beauty That’s my superpower

P 32

Learning Self Love

P 1P 17

OCT 2019

Love of self permits the love of a nation And I have the power to build just that All in the switch of a hip The batting of an eye A conversation on the subjugation of the African American male and involuntary invisibleness of the African American woman I am and can be a Multifaceted Goddess Speaking life, healing and love into everyone I meet Moving mountains by simply planting my feet So deep into the earth The world rotates differently Woman is life Life is me.

P 34

Still Healing Written by: Nikki Tajiri

I am still accepting Myself as I am Right now and Right now and \ Right now

OCT 2019

P 35

Still Healing

Your trauma doesn’t have to be The worst story on the news It doesn’t have to be a broken home Or a broken bone Sometimes your trauma Is feeling truth in the story that You’re not enough You are enough

OCT 2019

P 36

Still Healing

This world will keep Cracking you open and Pushing you forward So it’s okay When you have to heal Again

OCT 2019

P 37

Still Healing

This world will keep Cracking you open and Pushing you forward So it’s okay When you have to heal Again

OCT 2019

P 38

On the Numbness Written by: Jess Hess

When I gave my father’s eulogy, my brother said he was relieved. I hadn’t cried in the hospital, or when the hippie children were out on 4/20 hunting easter eggs, and I wanted to ask their faded parents for a drag. My father was dying not a mile away, so we forced a carved-out public park in the center of Philadelphia to welcome us in for Easter. An alien, I looked down at the uneaten licorice jelly beans in my basket. Dad couldn’t steal them from me anymore. That semester my college class sent me flowers. Three years of feeling mostly estranged, a card and some lilies that would inevitably wilt and dry just like he did could mean anything to the grieving process, and the cold ocean of blank realization, but every day gets a little less hazy, and every day gets a little more real, and the pain becomes a friend that I talk to at length about how, when I was young, I would plug my ears, and close my eyes, and hold my breath and think, “like this?” How I would beat back and forth in my mother’s lap, spewing “I don’t want to die, I don’t want you to die,” and her saying, “You don’t have to worry about that for a long time.” How else can a woman word this to her child– I was premature to understand but she could not promise me a god damn thing. Losing my father was, in some realm in the back of my cranium or abdomen, expected. Like how the cigarette smoke didn’t truly linger in his favorite jean shirt, after five years of sucking nicotine lozenges, and another five completely free, I just expected the smell. What I didn’t expect was for his body to sputter, then fade, then coma when the beating of his heart was too powerful to survive the relief of his left lung no longer pressing against it.

OCT 2019

P 39

On the Numbness

Nor did I expect the immediate understanding of his religion I breathed in the last time he breathed out. Maybe I expected that one day this understanding would be the fire that I bathed myself in that burnt away the hardening hatred hiding itself between the silky layers and soft pockets of my character. For some reason, I did not expect those layers of sateen to themselves be set ablaze, leaving me nearly naked, shivering and forever tugging at the charred ribbons to tighten the ruined robe that was my self when what I certainly did not expect two years later,the screeching news of her crash extinguished me. I sat, sopping, on my mother’s couch, the others sopping around me, for months. I tried dousing myself in alcohol but no one could spark me back up. When I moved to the south, I learned quickly that my sadness wasn’t welcome. Acquaintances would tire of me lingering on details of my mother’s career and ask, “What about your dad?” – – “He was a professor?” lips smacked over and over, “sorry sorry didn’t mean to – So, what brought you to Nashville?”

OCT 2019

P 40

On the Numbness

To think! If I dared articulate the cold and swift dismemberment of losing an 18-year-old. The last time I saw her, she said we hadn’t met up in too long. She was one of my lighthouses. I paddled in circles for months, my stomach corroding, Shore! Shore! I loved her I love her she was with the wrong crowd. Should I have pushed or pulled? More or Less? Then again, how the fuck can I blame anything when she was not speeding she was not drinking she was not texting she was not, but the tree was, very much. There were no skid marks, they said, no skid marks and she was killed instantly. No skid marks and she was the only fatality. She probably didn’t see it coming. She was probably laughing when it happened, they said. Probably laughing and she didn’t see it coming as there were no skid marks and she did not suffer. That night the police banged on our doors banged like the ruler on the chalkboard to wake us banged to wake my mother startled from her banged sleep hadn’t come to me, yet banged like my mind my chest banged beating all night it’s like my soul knew banged and the dogs barked the banging officers – There was a moment of clear relief when my mother finally answered. And then I am jerked here, tugged there my most swallowable parts shredded off, while I’m glued to the image of my father swollen like a stress doll, face unshaven. I ducked my niece’s viewing because I was re-living the gore, the vhs of my puffed-up yellow father skipping and snowing, I want to burn that tape from my

OCT 2019

P 41

On the Numbness

memory like they burned my niece’s body. And now a thrashing, my abdomen mangled daily, when I will never again see her in 3D now that she is ash in a pot, in the ink on my brother’s arm, and a little in the ground under a stone. Here is the truth at the back of my eyelids: I could study its jaundiced face, or turn away. When it’s off buying groceries or depositing souls at the bank, I’ll drive easy. Sometimes, though, it takes my head in its hold, swings my body along to face, and stares down into the deepest and most unsure parts of me.

OCT 2019

P 42

Re lex (palm to glass, glass to mouth, inhale) Written by: Jess Hess

Do I look like an addict to you? My skin is still plump my words clean as dish soap on the sponge There is no dirt under my fingernails no rocks or powders or bent spoons in my bag Sure, my eyes may be cloudy, but when have they been otherwise? I remember my teachers holding me back after I was done daydreaming – the window like my TV screen at home I used to decompose every night spent in the shadows of our garage lounge growing mushrooms until my brother came to detox and we moved the TV into the living room I started having to explain to friends from school why there was a moaning man living below me Skin like a wet sheet clinging to his skeleton, He spoke often, and when

OCT 2019

P 43

Re lex

he spoke, he lied Always a smile of dirt tucked into his fingernails He’d leave pimple pus on the bathroom mirror Bedsheets with burnt cigarette holes, t-shirts unwashed in trash bags He’d look at me with a glint of delirium, a kitchen knife in his right hand When he finally cleaned up, I knew it immediately A stranger The whites of his eyes unrecognizable.

OCT 2019

Meet The Poets NIKKI TAJIRI Nikki Tajiri is a poet and artist, who creates through healing her own relationship with her femininity. She frequently explores themes about a woman’s relationship to her body, including about menstruation, pregnancy, and birth. Her writing style is simple, yet powerful. Nikki is the author of She Dreams When She Bleeds: Poems About

SARAH STURINO Sarah is a Wellness Educator, Pilates Instructor & Reiki Healer dedicated to helping women find calm amidst the chaos of everyday life. She offers online modules & coaching programs; events/classes local to the Toronto area she calls home; and, destination wellness retreats.

ALICIA DRIER I am a resident of Indianapolis, where I am a high school English teacher and pie shop aficionado. I have previously self-published two novels through, had work featured in IPFW’s literary magazine Confluence, and worked as a writer at Study Breaks Magazine.

DEVIN CANARY Devin Canary is a homeschooling mama of two and cofounder of Canary Acres Animal Sanctuary in Ohio. Devin is a wannabe witch who believes that words, spoken or written, can be magic spells that alter someone's existence, for just a minute or for much longer. She believes poetry is powerful...poetry is witchcraft. Her poems have been published by Bone and Ink Magazine and Clash Media. Her work will also appear in the upcoming issue of Peculiar and The Womxn Anthology. You can find her on Instagram devin_canary and tumblr as devincanary.

MEGHAN TRASK SMITH Meghan Trask Smith teaches English at a boarding school in Massachusetts where she lives with her cartoonist husband, boundless children, and a very fuzzy dog. She shows up to writing each day with the hope that the Muse will visit. Her work is forthcoming in The American Journal of Poetry, Nonbinary Review, and has been featuered in Mom Egg Review, Blast Furnace Journal, cahoodaloodaling, and Snapdragon: A Journal of Art & Healing.

IDA THOMASDOTTER Ida Thomasdotter is a writer, filmmaker and artist from Sweden, currently living in London. When she doesn't freelance as an actor or video editor, or working on her own art and writing projects (which currently include a series of spoken word music videos, a novel and a textless children's book), she likes to pester her partner with existential questions, preferably at three o'clock in the morning, tend to her tomato plants, drink copious amounts of coffee, watch a lot of weird films and skulk around the neighborhood in search of other people's cats to pet. Ida is also a passionate mental health advocate, a sporadic yogi and a 'difficult' feminist.

JASMINE LEDESMA Jasmine Ledesma is a twenty year old latina poet living in the gush of New York. Her work has appeared in The Carson Review, Not Very Quiet, and Typishly. She was selected as poet of the week by Poetry Highway and recently interviewed by Cathexis Northwest Press.

AURORE SIBLEY Aurore's writing has appeared in The Molotov Cocktail Shadow Award Anthology, Midwestern Gothic and Lilipoh magazine, and is forthcoming in the Cosmos issue of The Poeming Pigeon. Her poetry chapbook, "The Heart is Not a Pump" was published by Finishing Line Press in 2017.

LORI NOTO Lori is a poet from South Eastern, Wisconsin. She is an advocate for women's health and knows what it is like to be scared in her own body. Lori thinks all women who endure illnesses and disorders are heroines.

CHRISSIE CHINEBUAH Chrissie Chinebuah is an aspiring lawyer from Ghana. She first began writing poetry in 2010 and has since been published four times, most recently by Momaya, Agbowรณ, Through the Eyes of African Women and Feminessay. She is soon to be published in the Journal of African Literature. She also served as the editor-in-chief at Boston University, her alma mater, for a publication entitled The Chimaerid.

MARION HENSON Marion Henson is a wife, mother of three beautiful children. She recently returned to her first love, writing. She uses words to break cycles, heal and motivate. She received a BA in English with a minor in Women's studies and an MS in Digital Marketing. Her poem was published in the Phoenix Literary Magazine at the College of New Rochelle. She is currently working on her debut book.

JESS HESS Jess Hess was born and raised in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, but has spent the last three years in Nashville, Tn working on an album and learning about adulthood. She has never been published professionally, largely due to her concentration and dedication to music for most of her life. Recently, she has recognized an even greater passion inside of her for writing poetry, and has been trying to strengthen her writing and pursue publication.

Interested in writing for FWWR? Check out our website to learn more at No thanks, I just want to read and be part of the community! Great, you can join our Patreon page to support the movement and become a FWWR Ambassador! We look forward to connecting with you.




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Vol 4: Still Healing  

Dive into the brave and beautiful poetry featuring women who roar from all over the world sharing their stories and experiences in healing....

Vol 4: Still Healing  

Dive into the brave and beautiful poetry featuring women who roar from all over the world sharing their stories and experiences in healing....